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"Federal judge throws out Santa Monica's lawsuit over airport"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Federal judge throws out Santa Monica's lawsuit over airport 
By Dan Weikel 
The Los Angeles (CA) Times

The effort to close Santa Monica Airport suffered a major setback Thursday
when a federal judge threw out the city's lawsuit that sought to wrest
control of the facility from the federal government.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walters dismissed the claim that title to the
oldest operating airport in Los Angeles County should be returned to the
city because the action was brought too late under the statute of

Walters also threw out the allegations that the city was denied due process
and that the federal government did not properly compensate the city for
taking the property in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said the city failed to first seek compensation for the airport in
the Court of Federal Claims.

City Atty. Marsha Moutrie said the judge's 17-page ruling will be evaluated
to determine Santa Monica's options. 

"Of course, we are disappointed. But there is likely much work to come," she

The federal government obtained the airport from the city during World War
II for defense purposes. It transferred the facility back to the city after
the war on the condition that it remain an airport in perpetuity unless the
government agreed to a change in use.

The city has contended that the airport must be closed in 2015 under various
federal grant agreements and a 1984 court settlement with the government.

In anticipation of the airport's closure, community groups and airport
opponents have been planning to convert the grounds into a park and
recreational facility.

The battle over the airport has been closely watched by local aviation
enthusiasts and national organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Assn.

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